Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Friday, March 3, 2006

09:14:11 pm , 1166 words, 2593 views     Categories: Animation, Misc, Indie, TV

Recent viewing

Today I had the pleasure of watching Piotr Dumala's Crime and Punishment, completed in 2000. Watching it I was able to spend one of those rare and wonderful moments in life when art manages to bridge over the void and make it all seem worth it. That feeling will go away soon. I can't really describe the film any more lucidly than that, and in a way don't want to spoil the mystery of the experience by probing too much into how it was made, though I probably will do so once the effect has worn off, as the effect achieved was too stunning and masterly to remain uncurious. Every image spoke of inordinate effort and conviction, and it didn't feel like technical showing off as another similar film I've seen did. It's been years since I read the book, so I was a little perplexed at moments, but without a single word he manages to convey the story and the atmosphere of the book vividly and lucidly. Adapting a story as well-known as this one could surely have turned into something far more pedestrian, but everything here fell right into place. What I found most incredible about the film was the textures. The simulacrum of life. The texture of a wall. The way a drop rolls down, or the way steam rises from a bowl of soup as it's being poured. Small moments like these were perfectly observed and executed and arranged to create a flawless rhythm. All the more incredible, then, that the mimesis comes to us via plaster. Animation is alive in people like this. It's unfortunate that the only way one could see the film would be via a copy off of Polish television, as it definitely deserves to be seen by more people. If he's been active for more than two decades, as I hear he has, this immediately makes me want to see his earlier work, and I'm sure other people would feel the same way if they could see this.

I'm hardly a Clamp fan, but I'm surprised how much I enjoyed IG's Clamp double-feature. Both were solid films. Different, but both well produced. It was less of a surprise that Tsutomu Mizushima's film was good, but I was surprised how much effort the young staff working on the other, shorter film managed to put into the film. I may have even been more impressed with that one because you really felt these young animators putting in their all into the film. To name the scenes that impressed me: Shinichi Yokota's scene at the beginning in the forest with the young boy was full of lively movement; Sachiko Okumura's scene in the bath was nice; Toru Okubo's scene with the bird men near the middle had some good action; what I assume would have to be Chikashi Kubota's one-shot chase in the air - probably the shot they said they had to halve from 600 drawings - was typically thrilling, even almost out of control; and finally Naoyoshi Shiotani's final battle in the air was the capstone. His last shot of the bird imploding was perhaps the most spectactular shot after Ohira's few shots. You can tell he put a lot of thought into how to make it as effective a shot as needed for that climactic moment.

Tsutomu Mizushima's film was quite interesting. His directing perfectly balanced mysterious horror with his patented absurd humor, so it was great to see that he'd pulled it off. The art and photography was spectacular. The music was great. A few bits reminded me of Isang Yun and Walter Hus's first string quartet, which was odd. It was interesting to see how Kazuchika Kise's unreasonably long characters were made to move. I can imagine it must have been even harder moving them on a widescreen. A scene where a character is trapped in a sort of vent and his limbs fill up the screen in a tangle plays well on this. He really put some loving into drawing those looong hands. Animation-wise Ohira's and Hashimoto's scenes were of course great, as was Okiura's, but the real hilight for me was Miyazawa's at the beginning. It's overpowering, to think how many drawings he must have drawn for that sequence. Reminded me very much of his work on Dead Leaves in terms of the constant limited motion over the span of several minutes, but the deformations and the crazy ideas in there were amazing. At one point the character has several arms. He doesn't have several arms because his arms are moving fast or anything, it just looks like he has several arms for a while just for the heck of it. And you kind of accept it while watching. Bewildering. Miyazawa's scene was definitely a shock. Other than that it was great to see that not only did they not correct Ohira's section, they actually retained the unique way in which he drew his key animation using shades rather than pure lines in the final product, and had the inbetweens done in such a way that they would match the keys. Thank goodness there's a studio that lets Ohira do his thing like this. I still can't get over the story about how they had to hold an emergency meeting among the staff to try to figure out what was going on in his keys in the shorter film. Ohira is no longer human. His spirit soars somewhere in the stratosphere, far above mortal heads. I'd actually be more interested in seeing the keys for that tidal wave than for the bunny in Mizushima's film, interesting though it is. You get the feeling he's letting them off easy with that bunny.

Recent TV episodes. Seiichi Hashimoto was in Eureka 7 43 along with other interesting people. Presumably he drew the dancing and the swirl where the face looks a uniquely personal interpretation of Yoshida. Otherwise Seiichi is often pretty hard to pick out. He does good work without sticking out. Muraki et al would have done the battle with which the dance alternated. A good section. Each episode has had some interesting work for the most part, like Noein, which had Hiroshi Okubo again in 20, so it's almost pointless to point each instance out. A lot of Bones animators worked on ep 13 of Gaiking alongside lots of good Toei people apparently as a favor to Takaaki Yamashita protege Tatsuzo Nishita on the occasion of his first job as AD: Yutaka Nakamura, Takashi Hashimoto, Soichiro Matsuda, etc. etc. etc. Imaishi storyboarded ep 18 of Black Cat.

I had the funniest dream last night. I dreamt I was assigned some seriously hard shots on a new movie alongside animators like Hiroshi Okubo and Yutaka Nakamura. Having never drawn a second of animation in my life, I was naturally sweating bullets and wondering how I was going to do it. I can't imagine how I could have gotten into such a situation. The things we come up with in our dreams.



Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I liked the falling bit in Noein 20, I heard Ryochimo did it but he’s listed as the mysterious 2nd genga so I’m wondering if it’s not him, but Hirofumi Suzuki instead maybe. (Yuu falling off, Haruka running down, both of them falling down)

I finally watched Nasu -Summer of Andalusia-, it was a good watch for sure. The designs really looked like a mix between Naoki Urasawa and Ghibli, as you would expect from Kitaro Kousaka, I guess. Now I wish Miyazaki would endorse some other good manga so we’d get good things like that…

03/04/06 @ 02:55
Ben [Visitor]

Hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure that’s Hiroshi Okubo. It kind of looks like Ryo 2gen’d the part where the guy is falling apart because Haruka’s face looks like his work.

03/04/06 @ 10:45
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Hm, I wonder what bit Suzuki did then… perhaps the conversation between Atori and Karasu in the beginning? It’s a random throwout because the lines and animation felt very different there.

Next episode’ll be Hiroyuki Morita it seems. I remember one of the first times I came here I mentioned a Monster episode storyboarded by him…

I also watched ep 1 of Ergo Proxy but the animation didn’t entirely impress me. Perhaps they’re going more for the “start out with stable quality and keep it up, with bursts of good parts here and there” approach like (IMO) Eureka 7.

03/04/06 @ 17:37
Ben [Visitor]

Yes, I remember you mentioning that. As for Suzuki, I find it hard to spot his work, so I can’t say for sure. I thought I was familiar with his drawings from Cossette, but I don’t see anything that reminds me of that here. He’s a good artisan in that he can really adapt to the drawings at hand without sticking out.

03/04/06 @ 23:31
7Th [Visitor]

Hey, Ergo Proxy’s 2nd episode had some interesting animation near the end. You should check it out.

03/05/06 @ 08:25
gingersoll [Visitor]

This is a good bit of info about Dumala from the man himself…
Man I’d love to see this film projected on 35mm… But at least a DVD would be nice!

Speaking of wanted dvds… Winter Days has a korean release. I just got back from Seoul and seen an official release of the film there for 30000W. Might be old news, but just in case…

03/08/06 @ 03:55
Tsuka [Visitor]

Yes, Winter Days was released in Korea by Rabamajor. Unfortuantely, no english subtitles.
I have their National Film Board of Canada DVD release, nice product.

03/08/06 @ 14:52
Ben [Visitor]

gingersoll> Thanks for that link. It was fascinating reading. I hope everyone takes the time to read it. I was very much in agreement with the whole notion of animation as needing to come from aggregate life experience and not from some instant color-by-numbers schooling.

03/08/06 @ 18:35
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I read the link, and while I haven’t done or learnt any animation it was definitely an interesting read. The point about teachers being unable to make students experience life - that they have to go get it on their own - is something that I’m afraid many over here aren’t willing to do anymore… Some who I’ve talked to say that they believe art transcends life so they’d rather create a ‘purer’ art without being ’sullied’ by the coarseness of life, which is really quite silly if you believe that for art to transcend life it has to be based on life first. Meh.

Then again it’s not quite surprising considering the mentality of art students here.

I suppose it feels a bit out of place that I also want to express my surprise at Masayuki going to storyboard an ep of IGPX which doesn’t fit anything here - totally processed cheese, that show is… I don’t really like the direction IG (and coincidentially Ghibli) are going in exactly.

03/10/06 @ 02:52